Wow! That is something! It certainly is an interesting concept that makes sense. The sheer size of the layout they show is amazing. For $3000 it is compelling but at that spend I need to take it to the executive committee (my wife). Makes you say Hmmm… worth keeping an eye on.
That’s one other use case I have for it. Machining aluminum or brass. We saw a great escutcheon plate for a front door handle. Then saw the price - no way should one cost $2500! I’m pretty sure I can provide a few good meals to a shelter for that kind of money. So I’m designing something similar and going to do a 3D carve out of aluminum. If that works, I may try making a brass one too.
The door & escutcheon paid for my new CNC and leftover $ for doing some good. Win-win.
So I seem to be the odd man out here. I am a Shapeoko user and I very much use both CNC and the laser (quite often in combination). For example, these round boxes are about an inch and a half tall. Building that up in slices would be a bit of a pain and I would basically have to slice the wood and then cut and reassemble the slices. With CNC, you just carve the full 1.5 inch block of wood. However, the laser adds nice details to the top.
I can also do furniture sized projects like this:
I’ve even taken to doing large format drawing with a sharpie on CNC:
I even made a video about this very subject for my CNC channel:
Excellent video. A fair & balanced look at both machines and applicable to different manufacturers too.
Now of course I’ll have to check out all of your videos
It is the thicker stock that has attracted me to the CNC as well as the bed size. Lots of potential to use both together!
I did look at 4x8 bed-sized CNCs after the 2007 crash when they hit rock bottom price at $14,000, which was the stuff I had been designing for that friends owned, but between the money and space to put them all I could do was look.
Making custom entertainment walls for a huge increase in generic homes before the 2007 crash was the main product produced by folk who had such big machines. For that stuff, the single-line cut was very straightforward.
The MPCNC guy has what is called a Low Rider which can be built for full sheets of ply. I’ve been thinking about that but I’m too far from my shop. Definitely being able to do thicker materials is great. Plus larger signs and cutouts. I haven’t tried aluminum on mine, but folks have done it. I’d have to upgrade the spindle and I’ll just be patient until I can afford something with ball screws and linear rails. But that means more metal stuff. Wood seems ok with the right kind of rack and pinon. It’s a morass of choices. I might just hold off and keep learning until I can make an epoxy granite mill. There is just something about those that fascinate me.
Yowza, retail price really went up. My Kickstarter was about half that
Great videos! LOts of great information!
FOr half that it might be something you can’t refuse. $3000 really makes it a much more difficult decision. Seems lik eyou need a fair amount of bigger projects to make it worthy. Still makes you say hmmm…worth keeping an eye on. Wonder if there will be a small one. The thing that is very interesting is the built in dust collection. That piece of it is making CNC a tough decision as I have some space, but all the added vacuuming needed makes that space louder.
I had a job as assistant engineer in a factory making contact lenses and in a small room with six lathes a giant shop vac would have been horrid, but building a plywood box with baffled air in and air out solved that part of the problem, and then the engineer had checked for the brand, etc. that they use for engine compartments of fancy yachts and lined the inside with that. After that, you could barely tell if it was running.
INteresting idea. Worth thinking about for sure. My other idea was to buld an enclusre so it could live outside like a grill would. Of course, it would heve to be super sealed. It would be super easy to use it outside. I think this is not really a viable idea as it is very wet where I live and I dont think the CNC would appreciate that. No matter how sealed it was, I think it would be problematic.
That’s pretty much the path I was on. I built a VERY sturdy 4x4’ rolling table which it would reside on, so I could roll it out the door onto the deck (I have “french doors” along the back of my home, right besides the shop it lives in…) I can stand on it with no deflection.
Just lost interest after getting the GF. That table now stores my GF materials!
So I also have an x-carve but have used it plenty of times since my Glowforge. I often in fact combine the two (not thrilled to put a moderately powered diode laser on the x-carve and just have it beaming away class-4 style in the open. But there are several things to know: as @eflyguy mentioned it is insanely loud and dusty. I have mine in the workshop behind the (cleaner space where I use the GF). You absolutely need dust protection (with cyclonic separation - I use the Oneida dust-deputy and a 5-Gallon can) and it is imperative that you get groundable tubing for the dust control to A) protect against dust explosions and B) the x-carve’s controller is sensitive to static discharges nearby [make sure they are both on the same ground line to prevent ground loops). I also have a Tormach CNC mill (4-axis with flood coolant) which is less like the Glowforge and more of a traditional vertical machining center. The x-carve is great for large signs, and unlike a pro the tiling feature allows massive and thick things to feed through…
The biggest issue you face is controlling the x-carve. It requires some computer to be plugged in to drive it. Which also raises the software chain. If you want to use easel (their equivalent to the GFUI - also comes in paid pro) then you mostly have to stick to a windows computer plugged into the x-carve (say you have an old laptop), if you want to use other tools (I use easel, vectric v-carve and fusion-360) then you need a CNC-controller. I bought a small single-board intel based computer which is running Ubuntu Linux and then has cncjs as the controller running on it (alternative is gcodesender - all free) and have a shared folder from Linux that I dump my gcode files into and then don’t need my Mac to sit there inhaling dust.
Machining (whether via easel or a more advanced CAM like fusion) is more complicated vs. Glowforge design. Also the current Glowforge model has a lot of nice enhancements and people have built all sorts of clever add ones (to facilitate full 3D probing instead of just z-height) which once you have it (I do on my Tormach) it’s extremely hard to go back from.if I can reccomend a good channel to watch to see more go to PawPaw’s workshop. Phil is a great guy and is on the forums all the time (he’s helped me on numerous occasions) and his YouTube videos are a good place to start (he does both laser and CNC machining)
I switched to tape-and-glue and never looked back. On my Tormach I use the various workholding things I have (soft jaws, 3D printed jigs, etc)but on x-carve which is relatively soft materials tape and glue works great (tape and glue would suck with flood coolant I imagine).
The big advantage of carving big things on my x-carve is they typically have huge surface area making tape-and-glue reliable, and definitely use accelerator on one side of the tape so it cures in seconds)
Thank you so much for this topic!
I have been seriously thinking about getting a CNC for the same reasons. And I really appreciate all the feedback and feelings provided by the community. I can easily see the logic used here.
I am just a hobbyist. I don’t usually use my tools to make and sell items. Often I just make for gifts or donate to organizations that I can help.
What I have learned is that if I were to get a CNC, I would want it to be rather large. And I do not have room for that yet. So, one day I might get a CNC, but not today.
Thanks for all the information and perspective given in these discussions. I really appreciate you all!
Pricey but likely what he bought …
There is much that is way cheaper depending on your tolerance.
I got a OneFinity (like an XCarve but better built with ball screws and linear bearings) with a 48" by 33" so I can fit a piece of standard plywood in it and slide it through to get full sheet capability if I want. There are a few others here who have OneFinity machines. It also doesn’t need a separate computer to drive it. The controller acts like the GF running the file you load while you go off to do something else.
I don’t currently have room for a “desktop” size machine much less a good sized one like this one. So I built a flip style table. Three feet tall open and five feet when flipped up for storage. It’s 22" front to back and 82" long when it’s flipped. I can roll it out, flip the top and have a 6x4ft table surface. One side will get the CNC mounted this weekend and the other side will be a vast open bench space to use for other projects.
The OneFinity will actually work vertically & they sell wall mounting systems but I don’t have that much open wall space At least with it in wheels I can tuck it away when I’m not using it.
Interesting! My ingoing thought was…what if I just buld an enclosure with 3 walls of 1 or 2 inch rigid insulation foam that is simply taped or glued together? I could line the inside with the product you linked to. The weak part would be the doors which I could frame with some wood and acrylic. Poke a hole in the back for a shop vac hose (or as @henryhbk suggests a dust deputy set up) and a few well placed holes in the side to run any electric/computer chords and it might work. It seems to me that it needs to be sturdy, but nothing fancy. It does not need to hold any weight on the top. It just need to enclose the machine and dust well. The botton could be MDF and more foam or some of those mats taht you see in a home aerobics studio. I am not an engineer, but seems reasonable that something like this could be used in a smaller space.
Full enclosure is go[ing to make using it almost impossible, as you typically are loading big stock into it and you need to get in there and change up the tools. The full enclosure is easier to work with on my Tormach as I have a power drawbar and an automatic tool changer, plus with flood coolant it isn’t usable without an enclosure. As far as dust the dust collocation around the router uses a brush border essentially as a local enclosure. To be honest the shop vac is louder than the router. At this point unless you’re doing the x-carve pro I’d probably do the CNC4NEWBIES as it is essentially the same machine but way more robust (linear rails and ball screws). On my x-carve I bought the stiffening upgrade, the z-axis from cnc4newbies and all the steppers are upgraded to 294oz steppers along with conversion to 9mm GT3 belts. I keep a 1/8 MDF board on top of my x-carve’s spoilboard as an actual spoil board and do tape and glue for every job. I have found the HDPE 2-tone sheets do not get picked up by my dust collection (I am guessing static charge)